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Idris Elba is Colin, a charismatic and violent sociopathic criminal on the lam and winner of the Most Unbefitting Name Ever Award. Whilst making his escape, he totals his car into a tree and legs it through the forest. The first house he stumbles upon is that of all-alone Terri (Taraji P. Henson) who is just putting her young kids down for the night. This charming stranger works his charisma, asks for help after his “accident”, and talks his way from the porch into the living room. Soon Terri is putty in his hands. But as they say, No Good Deed goes unpunished.
No Good Deed is a fairly standard crime thriller, but I mean that in the best way. It is gripping, entertaining, keeps us on the edge of our seats, but doesn’t really show us anything we haven’t seen before. Great performances from the small cast really sell this film and keep you engaged to the end.
There is one stand-out moment, however, an unexpected plot twist that made me choke on my coke and splutter, “Ohmigod, whuh!?”. The twist is really neat. But it isn’t so much clever, as the rest of the film is so run-of-the-mill, that you kind of don’t expect the twist at all. The twist is particularly effective as it isn’t done merely for the sake of it, as so often is the case, but actually has a punch which makes sense and gives an underlying logic which holds the picture together. I’ll stop there before I plot spoil.
All in all, a standard but very well-made and well-acted crime thriller which is a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend 84 minutes.
© 2018 Bryan A. J. Parry
© 2018 Bryan A. J. Parry
Starring Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara, this is A Ghost Story told from the perspective of the ghost. But unlike classic Oscar winner Ghost, where being a ghost is portrayed much like being alive, A Ghost Story paints a more realistic picture (if ghosts are realistic at all, which they aren’t): the ghost is silent, unable to effect change in the world, and robbed of all that made him a personality in life, such as voice, memory, and that dreamy Patrick Swayze quiff.
Ghost Story makes some interesting choices. It’s shot in 4:3, although it’s not apparent why. The ghost is portrayed as a man with a sheet over his head which, believe it or not, does actually work and isn’t ridiculous as it surely deserves to be. And our spectral protagonist never utters a word in death. The film is a tale of loss and how you struggle to come to terms to loss.
Well, “protagonist”, “tale”, “struggle”. Perhaps those aren’t the best words. The film actually has no plot whatsoever, let alone “tale” or “struggle”, and the “protagonist”, such as he is, doesn’t “tagonise” anything. And when I say “no plot”, I don’t mean in that hyperbolic jargonised English that “his head LITERALLY fell off”; I mean, quite actually, there. is. no. plot. Therefore I can plot spoil without plot spoiling for there is no plot to spoil. The unnamed couple cuddle in bed for several minutes without talking. Affleck’s character dies, which we don’t see. Mara’s character then sits around doing nothing, and I mean nothing: we see her eat a pie, in real time, for a full ten minutes. Eventually, she moves out of their house, someone else moves in, then they move out, then someone else in, and so on, until the house is knocked down. The ghost silent watches all of this. Fin. Literally nothing happens, and there is no character arc for our ghost or plot development.
Aristotle wrote in his Poetics, some 2300 or so years ago, that drama needs the following elements: a beginning, a middle, an end; plot, character, diction, thought, spectacle, music; a single central theme whose elements are logically related; that the dramatic causation and probability of events hangs on the characters’ actions and reactions; and catharsis of the spectators, that is, “to arouse in” spectators “feelings of pity and fear, and to purge them of these emotions so that they leave the theatre feeling cleansed and uplifted”. A Ghost Story has none of these apart from “spectacle” (nice cinematography and visual effects) and “music” (sound effects, which were effective in building atmosphere). The whole film, in fact, feels exactly like a five minute A-Level student’s film project which has been inflated to 92 minutes and a massive budget.
Here are some snippets from IMDb user reviews.
“Worst film I’ve seen in a long, long time. 1/10”
“What a total waste of time. 1/10”
“Like watching paint dry. 1/10”
“Enough to make you think you have died! Do not bother! 1/10”
“Truly awful. 1/10. Boring, pretentious, irritating, amateur, self-indulgent”
“High rating on IMDb is inside joke about this movie. 1/10”
“The director thinks he’s Bergman and he is not. 1/10”
“A wonderfully hypnotic and philosophical film exploring the enormity of life. 8/10”
“A mind-alteringly realistic depiction of human life. 10/10”
This film isn’t so much “Marmite: love it or hate it”, as it is “hate it, or brainwash yourself into thinking you love it”. Do not believe the many wanker reviews or critics that have boosted this to a very respectable 6.9 on IMDb and, extraordinarily, a 91% Fresh Critical Consensus on RottenTomatoes.com, who declare that this film is “powerful” with a “passionate couple” at the core. The film is no such thing. It is self-indulgent crap at its worst. This really is a case of “the Emperor has no clothes”; fearful, mindless, cretinous film critics rate it highly as they are scared that to do otherwise would make them appear uncouth and uncultured and probably get their next schmooze fest invitation cancelled. Above all, nobody wants to say the emperor has no clothes.
The film’s not even saved by the “so bad it’s good” factor; this is the most tedious, boring piece of shit I have ever watched. And I do mean “ever”. Good news, though; that I managed to make it through the film without turning off or tearing my own eyeballs out means that the instanews social media whizz-bang world we now inhabit hasn’t completely destroyed my patience. One out of five — for spelling its own name correctly.
© 2018 Bryan A. J. Parry
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I’ve been writing an essay on possible electoral reform in the UK, but it’s turning into a mini-book. So I’m just going to post up the very short summary of my main conclusions and proposals.
My proposal for how to reform the House of Commons:
This series of proposals taken together introduces some proportionality, but not to the point that it destabilises politics (that is, permanent coalitions and collapsing governments). It encourages people to vote for who they really want, as they know their vote really counts in the multimember regional constituencies, and that they can vote for who they want in the single member constituencies without wholly ruining it for the second favourite candidate. Currently, people will often vote Labour to keep out the Tory, or vice versa, when they really want to vote Green (for example). Under this proposed system, they could confidently vote Green in the multimember regional constituency, and then either Labour in the single member constituency or Green first choice and Labour second choice. It also makes it more likely that the MP in the single member constituency will command 50% or more of the electorate.
The only possible downside is that it introduces two kinds of MP. But I say we already have two kinds of MP: we have those in the Government who are thus in the Executive branch of Government, and back benchers who are not in the Government and are thus not part of the Executive. In other words, the MPs who run the country + look after their constituents, and MPs who only look after their constituents. Indeed, the Speaker of the House could himself be considered an altogether different, third type of MP in the current set up.
I hope to publish a more detailed analysis and investigation into reform of the House of Commons soon.
© 2018 Bryan A. J. Parry
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Belgium: a country invented by the British to annoy the French.
Charles de Gaulle, President of France (1959-1969)
Anna Soubry, the Conservative MP who stood for election on a 2017 Manifesto which committed to delivering Brexit and who herself in 2017 said “you can’t vote for a Referendum & then renege on delivering the result because you don’t like the result”, has famously reneged. She has done nothing in the last year but attempt to overturn the decision to leave the European Union, most recently voting against her own Government’s position on the recent Customs and Trade Bills by trying to tie the UK into a Customs Union with the EU.
But by now, all politics junkies know she’s unprincipled (although I’m not sure to what extent the general public is aware of the extent of her unprincipledness). What has piqued my interest, however, is that now she’s talking absolute rubbish on Twitter, again. Specifically, she’s parroting the oft-repeated, in-vogue line that, actually, the vote to leave the EU wasn’t the will of the people after all! Why? Because whilst it is true that more than half of those who voted did indeed vote to Leave, many people did not vote at all. Some 27.79% of the eligible electorate didn’t bother to vote, in fact. This means that, of the total electorate eligible to vote in the EU Referendum, 34.74% voted for Remain, and only 37.47% voted for Leave — considerably less than 50%!!
However, this is a completely bogus argument. There is always a huge percentage of the electorate who don’t vote. Indeed, as one Twitter user (@AlastairJT) has helpfully pointed out to Ms. Soubry, she herself was elected in 2017 on less than 50% of the electorate; the turn out in her constituency of Broxtowe was 75.0%, of which she achieved 46.8%, giving her a grand total of 35.1% of the electorate — a lower percentage than voted for Brexit.
But actually, the issue is even larger than that. More people voted for Brexit (17.4 million) than for anything else in British history. Moreover, and this is the master stroke I feel, you have to go back to the General Election of 1959 to see the winning party earn a higher percentage of the total electorate than the 37.5% who voted for Brexit. 1959! When Britain was a virtual two party state. And indeed, you have to go back to the 1931 General Election before a party achieved a higher percentage of the turn out than Leave achieved — and that was because the Liberal Party had imploded and split four ways.
As they say in football, “you can only beat the teams that are put in front of you”. That more than a quarter of the population stayed at home does in no way invalidate the result of the EU referendum. If the benchmark for a vote to qualify as the “will of the people” and be so enacted is more than half of the total electorate voting one way, then no General Election since 1959 has been “the will of the people”, and nor was the election of Anna Soubry herself. If the vote to leave the EU wasn’t “the will of the people”, then nothing is.
© 2018 Bryan A. J. Parry
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